All university students may now return to campus

On Wednesday,  September 30, Blade Nzimande announced that universities could accept 100% of their students back to campus. This announcement was made during the department’s Covid-19 risk-adjusted strategy address to the media.

The return includes international students. “After the president’s announcement that the country would move to Level 1, I am pleased to say that we are now in a position to welcome back 100% of our university students, including all those international students who are now outside the borders of SA,” Nzimande said. International students returning from outside the country must have had a test within the last 72 hours, indicating they tested negative for the virus on arrival in the country. They will also need to quarantine themselves at their own expense for a minimum of 10 days before arriving at their institutions.

Universities are now preparing to implement their plans for the return of students and staff.

Nzimande cautioned that health and safety protocols (physical distance, sanitising, washing hands, environmental cleaning and wearing of masks) must be observed.

Occupancy of rooms will now be at 50%, while a maximum of 250 people are to be allowed indoors at a given time. Ventilation of rooms remains critical.

Gatherings are now permitted to up to 500 people at a time.

Nzimande mentioned that in the latest monitoring report, there were 1 979 Covid-19 cases at institutions. These included 1 215 staff members and 764 students. Due to the easing of regulations, 245 652 students have been allocated permits by the department allowing them to be present on campus.

The department is also keeping track of which institutions are likely to complete the academic year. The institutions have been colour coded: red is for institutions at a high risk of not completing the academic year successfully, orange is medium risk and green is for institutions that are likely to complete. He also noted that since September 17, no institution has been considered as high risk. As from September 17, seven institutions were considered to be at medium risk and 19 at low risk.